Study Guide

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand Family

By Helen Simonson

Family

The families in Major Pettigrew's Last Stand are not the Brady Bunch. They're not the Partridge Family. They're not even the Munsters. These families are fractured and divided. Aside from physical similarities, you might not even know the Major and Roger are related. And Mrs. Ali's family (well, her dead husband's family) is just flat-out nuts, stealing her mail and stabbing people with knitting needles. These family values are more in line with the Corleones' from The Godfather. Maybe the best thing for people like the Major and Mrs. Ali is just to start their own new family.

Questions About Family

  1. Which family is closer—the Major's or Mrs. Ali's? Is either family particularly close?
  2. How is the Major's family (his deceased wife and his son, Roger) different from his brother's family (his widow, Marjorie, and daughter, Jemima)? Why aren't the two sides of the family closer?
  3. Mrs. Ali says that Anglo-Saxons have "broken away from such dependence on family." Do you agree? Is this a good thing?

Chew on This

Both the Major and Mrs. Ali face antagonism from within their own family more than from outside their families.

The Major and Mrs. Ali have both been let down by their own families, so they decide to form a new family, together, at the end.